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investor-state disputes | ISDS

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) refers to a way of handling conflicts under international investment agreements whereby companies from one party are allowed to sue the government of another party. This means they can file a complaint and seek compensation for damages. Many BITs and investment chapters of FTAs allow for this if the investor’s expectation of a profit has been negatively affected by some action that the host government took, such as changing a policy. The dispute is normally handled not in a public court but through a private abritration panel. The usual venues where these proceedings take place are the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (World Bank), the International Chamber of Commerce, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law or the International Court of Justice.

ISDS is a hot topic right now because it is being challenged very strongly by concerned citizens in the context of the EU-US TTIP negotiations, the TransPacific Partnership talks and the CETA deal between Canada and the EU.


The Cairn $1.4 billion award is patently illegal
The arbitral award has condoned the tax avoidance scheme adopted by Cairn Energy.
AfCFTA Secretariat establishes court to resolve trade disputes
The AfCFTA Secretariat has established a dispute settlement body, that will function as a full-court with the right mechanisms and structures in place to settle trade disputes.
Denying India its tax revenue is neo-colonialism. Cairn Energy is the new East India Company!
The perverse interplay of BITs with double taxation avoidance agreements has been bleeding India from the much-needed tax revenues.
Energoatom suing Russia to get compensation for assets lost in Crimea
The dispute is about the assets it lost in Crimea, including the Donuzlav wind farm, which is now located in the temporarily occupied territory.
US oil service group seeks $100 million from Mexico in arbitration claim
Finley Resources alleges Mexico violated investor protections under the NAFTA trade pact by failing to honor agreements.
Corporate courts threat to insects
The shadowy parallel court system of major trade agreements makes it difficult for countries to ban broad-spectrum insecticides.
Canada BIT model (May 2021)
Turkmenistan wins $500 million claim brought before international arbitration tribunal by Turkish construction company
The government of Turkmenistan has won $500 million claim brought before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes by a Turkish construction company.
Tasks before the AfCFTA dispute settlement body
The inaugural meeting of the dispute settlement body of the AfCFTA signals the readiness of this infrastructure to take up any disputes that may arise in the course of trading amongst the member States.
Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
US commodity trader Gerald Group will pay Sierra Leone $20 million and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production.
Mexico’s America Movil says loses tribunal ruling against Colombia
America Movil said the World Bank’s ICSID tribunal has ruled against the company in its dispute with Colombia and ordered it to pay $2.2 million to cover the costs of the case.
EU and India agree to resume free-trade negotiations
The European Union and India agreed to resume stalled free-trade negotiations and seek closer cooperation to combat climate change at a virtual summit on Saturday.
India has been short-changed by Vodafone and Cairn arbitral awards
The international economic law regime has stripped India of over $3.8 billion in taxes due by Vodafone and Cairn Energy, as the country is battling the Covid19 crisis.
Regaining sovereignty
Pakistan, which entered into its first BIT with Germany in 1959 — which also was the first BIT ever entered — has concluded 53 BITs with 48 countries.
Turkey is the latest victim of a billion-dollar corporate heist
A Canadian mining company is suing Turkey for $1 billion at a secretive arbitration court over the cancellation of a mine project that was deemed disastrous for the environment.
Mexico should follow other countries and refuse excessive powers for foreign investors
Pakistan is the latest to start withdrawing from international treaties that give corporations the power to sue governments over environmental and public interest regulations.
We need to rethink investment treaties to ensure a rapid and just energy transition
It’s time to reconsider investor-state dispute settlement; inaction risks rising costs of shifting from fossil fuels to green alternatives.
Alamos Gold’s units to file $1 bln investment treaty claim against Turkey
Miner Alamos Gold said its Netherlands units will file an investment treaty claim exceeding $1 billion against Turkey for "unfair and inequitable treatment" with its gold mining project.
Draft convention on investments abroad (Abs-Shawcross draft convention)
One of the most significant early proposals for a multilateral agreement to protect private foreign investment was launched in 1957 by groups of European business people, and lawyers.
Energy Charter Treaty strikes again as Uniper sues Netherlands over coal phase-out
German energy company Uniper has confirmed its intention to sue the Dutch government over the country’s planned coal phase-out.